Written by: Stephanie D. Willis and Dianne J. Bourque
Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued model Notices of Privacy Practices (NPPs) in Spanish. Health care providers and health plans must provide individuals with an NPP to explain their health privacy rights and describe permissible uses and disclosures of individual protected health information (PHI) in paper or electronic form.
As with the English-language models, OCR and ONC have provided four options for the model NPPs:
- a booklet form;
- a layered format that presents a summary of the information on the first page, followed by the full content on the following pages;
- a notice with the design elements found in the booklet, but formatted for full page presentation; and
- a text-only version of the notice.
OCR and ONC also provide guidance to health care providers and health plans on how to customize the NPPs for their businesses in the Questions and Instructions documents on the website.
In its announcement of the new models, OCR and ONC cite to statistics indicating that “Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by 38.3 million people aged five or older,” a number that is double what it was in 1990. More pressing is that the Affordable Care Act expanded cultural competency requirements within Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These Spanish-language NPPs will assist covered entities, business associates, and their agents in providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services with respect to notifying patients of their privacy rights.
These models were tested in focus groups with Spanish speakers, which is above and beyond running the documents through Google Translate. Thus, covered entities and business associates providing services to Spanish-speaking individuals should personalize and make use of the models by making them available to patients whenever an NPP is required in their practice.